If you're wondering how to pack your cooler effectively, we've got you covered with a comprehensive guide about how to do it and why it works. We also have several video how-tos about your ORCA cooler.
Ice will be your best friend when it comes to keeping your cooler and food or drinks cold, and you'll need plenty of it.
It's best to use a two-to-one ratio, meaning you should have twice as much ice as food. In some cases, this might mean you need to bring more than one cooler, but for the sake of your food and beverages, it's well worth it.
Here's how to pack a cooler with ice based on the different types you can use:
Use a combination of ice to keep your cooler cold for as long as possible. Start with the ORCA Ice Blox, fill gaps around food with regular cubed ice and top off your cooler with a frozen ice sheet.
It's always best to refrigerate and freeze food and drinks before packing. Freezing meat and water bottles will keep your contents cold and help them last the duration of your trip.
For example, if you plan to make burgers on day three of your trip, freeze the meat and let it thaw on its own. If you plan to have those hot dogs as soon as you arrive, however, keep them refrigerated so you can chow down whenever you want to.
Everything else going into your cooler should be refrigerated beforehand. Anywhere you can find ways to keep your food cold and fresh is always a good idea.
Plan to prepare your cooler the night before your trip. Get your cooler ready by storing it in a room temperature location and filling it with ice the night before using it. This will help cool the inside and have it ready for packing the morning you need it.
Empty space is a cold air killer. Any gaps in your cooler can quickly be filled with hot air and make your ice melt significantly faster. It's best to fill your cooler to the top.
As you pack your cooler, fill any gaps you see with ice and finish packing by topping your cooler off with ice, as well. You can also use the sides of cartons, smaller ice blocks or pieces of cardboard to secure your items in place and help keep them cool.
After closing the lid, plan to keep it closed until you absolutely need to open it. Every time you open it, you expose the ice, food and beverages to hot air that will continue to warm the space. Leaving the lid open is a sure way to melt your ice.
You should also avoid draining the excess water if you can't get ice to replace it. The cubed ice you filled your gaps with will eventually start to melt. When this happens, keep the water inside the cooler. Even though it might look a little funny to see your drinks floating around, the water will still help keep the temperature down and take up space that warm air would otherwise occupy.
The best way to pack a cooler is by using layers. Packing in layers will help keep you organized and prevent your food from getting soggy and sliding around in your cooler. Follow these tips to layer what you pack in your cooler:
Depending on what you're bringing and when you'll use it, you may need to change up the layers. Try to keep whatever you'll use first — like that pack of hot dogs — near the top of the cooler so you don't have to dig around for things.
You'll want to make sure everything is inside air-tight bags or containers. If you need to remove the original packaging to save space, like the foam trays meat comes packaged with, put your food in a zip-top bag or another container.
You can also plan to prepare any marinades or dips beforehand. If you like a homemade spread for your chips or have a secret marinade for your steaks, take the time to make them at home. Chances are, you won't need some of those ingredients for anything else. So, pre-making some items will help save space in your cooler and time on your trip.
If possible, utilize a second cooler for drinks because they're more likely to move around, and you'll likely reach into that cooler more frequently than the one holding your food.